You’re lost? No problem. Here’s a quick and easy route to follow:
TO GET TO MY OWN TOWN OF ‘ADDICTIONVILLE’, YOU JUST TAKE THE
‘DENIAL’ HIGHWAY FOR QUITE A LONG TIME, FOLLOWING ALL THE ‘NO
ENTRY’ SIGNS. THEN,..JUST AFTER YOU SEE THE SIGN MARKED
‘DEAD END’, TAKE THE OFFRAMP TOWARDS THE UPWARD
CLIMB OF ‘RECOVERYBURG’.
Addictions are like people. They are complex! In order to understand why people embark upon a journey of painful and destructive addictive behaviours, as well as how to assist them, is a challenging task. Helping persons overcome these unsafe navigational territories, requires dedication, willingness, skill and effort. Additionally, and more importantly, it demands an understanding and acceptance of the many interrelated and multi-faceted factors that are involved. Just as we cannot put people into little “BLACK BOXES’ with nice little labels and neat categorical compartments, so too, addictions need to be viewed from the perspective of, and within the context of, each unique person and their personal situation.
For this reason, THE SOUTH AFRICAN DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY SUPPORT GROUP, who manage THE SANOFI-SYNTHOLABI SUBSTANCE ABUSE CALL LINE, play an important role and can provide a valuable contribution to persons in distress. They offer a facility where persons being crippled emotionally, spiritually and psychologically from their own or another’s addiction, can phone in and talk to a counsellor about their unique problem. They have an opportunity of talking to a counsellor about their own problem, in their own way and from the backdrop of their own particular life story.
It is at this point that the ‘traffic’ on the highway can become congested. The ROAD RAGE becomes evident. The addicted persons are still following the ‘no entry’ signs as they travel along the highway of DENIAL. Possibly, the problem of denial is not so much the refusal to acknowledge or admit that one has an addiction problem, but rather a lack of insight into the answer to the questions:
‘HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH A SUBSTANCE? HOW CAN I RECOGNISE WHETHER OR NOT I HAVE AN ADDICTION?’
Using the alcohol addiction as an example, the usual ‘reverse gear’ or defense of most abusers is that they don’t hide liquor or need a drink first think in the morning. Alternatively, they may state that they can control it and only drink at the end of each day or on weekends. They may respond that they still function well in their place of employment etcetera, etcetera. However, before going any further it is necessary to look at the ‘scene on the road to “ADDICTIONVILLE”. Often, addicts may shout in unison that they don’t hurt anyone or cause suffering to those around them. Perhaps the addicted person is right and we should just look at the culprit, the substance, on its own. WHAT KIND OF SCENE WILL ONE SEE FOR AN ALCOHOLIC ON THE ROAD TO “ADDICTIONVILLE”, OF COURSE USING THE HIGHWAY OF DENIAL?
While ‘travelling’ you may see an abandoned car with children who don’t know what it is like to live with an ‘all there parent’. Further down, you will find 5 cement trucks that veered off the side of the road with a whole lot of divorced people all ‘stuck’ in their pain. Along the way you will most definitely run into several fatal collisions involving both casualties and people who have lost their lives in their determination to travel this highway of denial. Although they are not allowed, hitchhikers still walk on the side of the highway and despite having lost their jobs and having no money to buy a car, they blindly see this as the only road they can travel. Some children and spouses sit feebly on the side of the highway as they got dropped off there by their parent or partner and don’t know how to get off the highway. They not only sit there, but their skin is blistered from the sun which burns down on them daily and as the heartbreak is so painful and raw, they are numb to the danger of the sun. One of the most amazing sights to see is that the white lines on the highway are almost obscured as there are people sitting in a row on top of the lines. These are the partners and children of substance abusers, who sit in the middle of the highway, too filled with panic, anxiety, fear and depression to actually move, in case they actually get run over by the unsafe, as well as unpredictable driving of the addicts. Perhaps the “highway of denial” no longer seems quite so attractive?
So to revert back to answering the question of how one knows when there is a problem in sight, here are some of the facts regarding one such substance, namely alcohol:
1. Excessive drinking affects EVERY MEMBER of the family as well as the family itself.
2. It is not about the time of day, the number of drinks, or how many days a week ones consumes alcohol, it is about HOW IT CONTROLS YOUR LIFE!
3. When one has a “relationship” with alcohol, it is near impossible to have
a relationship with people.
It is from this angle, the POSITION OF RELATIONSHIPS, that focus will be given. People who develop addictions, very often have a problem in developing and maintaining healthy relationships, firstly with themselves, significant others, other people in their social circle as well as with the world around them. The easiest thing in the world to do is to simply bail out. The addicted person simply chooses to leave the real world and finds what appears to be, a more comfortable, easier, less demanding, less painful and safer place to live in. This place is called the forest of “OBLIVION and UNREALITY”. The town of “ADDICTIONVILLE” is actually surrounded by this dense forest which makes it hard to leave the town. It provides a place to “be” or to exist in, that protects one from having to deal with the reality of modern life’s stressors, childhood wounds and pain, as well as accepting that life is not a place of problems, but rather, a place of challenges and opportunities for growth.
If you are challenged to determine whether you are in denial, or not, and indeed do not have a problem, then it should not pose a problem to avoid alcohol for a indefinite period of time, without presenting you with any difficulty. To test this, one could say, despite the fact that you enjoy your drink, knowing that you are not, in your opinion, addicted, but just to prove a point, you will refrain from ingesting alcohol for 6 weeks. Thereafter, you will limit yourself to only two drinks at any particular sitting for the month that follows the 6-week abstinence.